The Boring Path To Greatness
This past summer a close friend, and mentor, participated in his 49th consecutive Peachtree Road Race. Not only is he a close friend, but he also coached my son, Andrew, in high school. He never tires of helping others, and sharing his wisdom.
I’ve been reflecting on what it takes to achieve greatness in work and in life, and this example came to mind. Recently, I wrote about staying consistent as a leader; not letting success or failure change who you are in your core.
I think consistency and perseverance are cousins. Consistency relates to a maintained level of excellence. It’s a dedication to a high standard, for example, and never wavering from it. When you do that, people come to expect it from you because it’s what you’ve always done.
Perseverance also relates to the long game in life and work. When you and I persevere, we stick to the task at hand no matter the obstacle. Perseverance requires me to stay the course, even when the course gets difficult.
Running in a road race for forty-nine straight years requires a person to train, to sacrifice, and to endure pain. And the older you get, the harder it is to get up the “want to” to train for a road race.
It also requires a certain level of invisibility. When you train, you’re not in the public eye. Your friends and family don’t see the sweat and pain that you endure to reach your goal. They only see you on race day.
Greatness in life does not arrive on race day or game day or promotion day. It’s earned through hard work, determination, and a never-give-up spirit, that many people never see.
Greatness is not heralded along the way.
Greatness doesn’t single out certain people, while others stand on the sidelines hoping for it.
Greatness begins with one step, then another. And no matter the circumstances or obstacles, you and I must keep taking steps. We must stick to it. If we do, one day we’ll be able to look back and see the trail of hard work and overcoming that marked the way to achieving something truly remarkable.
In our work, we must endure the unglamorous. We must put in the time. We must attend the meetings we really don’t feel like attending. We must do the market research. We must take the red-eye. And we must do it over and over again.
There is a certain boredom to it. And everyone struggles with it. But the wonderful paradox is this: greatness emerges from boredom. It comes from doing the boring, tedious things required of us, day in and day out.
Perseverance is not a new concept. But it’s one that I need to keep priming myself on. I need to remind myself that my true potential will be reached only through overcoming obstacles, and continuing on the path.